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Deporting dissidents boosts Generals Muhoozi and Kagame

A meeting of minds on oppositionists between Kampala and Kigali could leader to a wider rapprochement

When General Muhoozi Kainerugaba ordered the deportation of Robert Mukombozi of the opposition Rwandan National Congress (RNC) this month he was confirming his authority as special security advisor and his position as favoured successor to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

He was also reinforcing his government's determination to end the three-year stand off with Rwanda on border policing and other security matters. This year Gen Kainerugaba has met Rwanda's President Paul Kagame several times.

That led to the reopening of the land border in January after three years of closure (AC Vol 63 No 3, Border reopening points to diplomatic thaw). The two also reached some agreement over ending support for dissidents in each other's countries.

Gen. Muhoozi said on Twitter last week that Mukombozi, a former journalist, had been expelled, describing him as an 'enemy of Rwanda and Uganda' and posting pictures of him heading towards a plane at Entebbe airport. It is unclear to where Mukombozi, who had previously been living in Australia, is being deported. Muhoozi said only that he has been 'sent back wherever he came from'.

This diplomatic rapprochement suits both Kagame and Kainerugaba. It could open the door to a bilateral summit between Museveni and Kagame ahead of Rwanda's hosting of the Commonwealth Summit in June.

In February, Kainerugaba had vowed to halt the 'illegal and criminal' activities of the RNC in Uganda, adding that their presence had almost caused 'a stupid war' between Kampala and Kigali. (AC Vol 62 No 5, Nowhere to hide).

Kagame had earlier said that he saw the presence of the RNC and its operatives in Uganda as an unfriendly act. Relations had worsened between Kigali and Kampala leading to the closure of their common border.

The RNC was founded in 2010 by several former high-level Rwandan officials, including General Kayumba Nyamwasa who has been the target of several assassination attempts in South Africa, his current country of exile. Patrick Karegaya, another leading figure in the RNC, was strangled in his hotel room in Johannesburg on 31 December 2013; a murder for which the RNC blames the Kagame government. A UN report in 2018 indicated that Nyamwasa had been recruiting and training an armed force in South Kivu province in Congo Kinshasa (AC Vol 60 No 6, Sibling rivalry turns ugly).

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